Cramping Maxwell plays through the pain for a World Cup epic

Suffering numerous cramps and back spasms, Glenn Maxwell was nearly forced to retire hurt but defied logic to stand and deliver one of the game's greatest knocks

Mission Impossible: Mercurial Maxwell does the unthinkable

Glenn Maxwell admitted he came close to retiring hurt during his miracle World Cup innings after suffering cramps in both legs and his back when Australia were still more than 50 runs away from victory.

In his first game back after concussing himself falling off the back of a golf cart last week, Maxwell's unbeaten double century – the first ever scored in the second innings of an ODI, and the first to be scored by any batter who was not an opener – is certain to talked about for years to come.

Teammates later told him his hobbled walk between wickets reminded them of famously disqualified 2000 Olympics race-walker Jane Saville, as Maxwell struggled to move towards the end of his astonishing double century in stifling Mumbai humidity.

Maxwell grimaces as he struggles to complete a run // Getty

The 35-year-old's discomfort became increasingly unbearable as he eventually collapsed in a heap after limping through for a single. 

At the time, he was on 147 and his side still needed 55 to win, and the toll of having earlier bowled his full allotment of 10 overs through the hottest part of the day had only added to his fatigue.

"We talked about coming off, trying to get some work into my back and trying to loosen up my legs a little bit," Maxwell told reporters after his 201no from 128 balls lifted Australia to an all-time comeback win.

Full interview: Maxwell reflects on bonkers innings

"Jonesy (Nick Jones) the physio said it would be really hard for me to come back down the stairs after that.

"We just came up with 'let's stay at the same end' for as long as you can until you feel like you can walk to the other end or if there's an easy single here and there.

"It was a strange one because I was cramping in one of my toes, which was going up the front of my shin.

"Then as I set off to try and get down the other end, I cramped in my that calf as well. I was cramping both sides of my lower leg, and as I went 'oh no, I'm cramping' I cramped in my left hamstring at the same time.

"I was like, I've got both legs cramping, and then I had a back spasm when I hit the ground.

Glenn Maxwell receives treatement for cramps in both legs // Getty

"But once I sort of calmed my breathing down, and I had the physio out there and he sort of talked me through it, what it was going to be like.

"I had one person pushing my foot, one person lifting my leg. It was strange.

"But that actually probably made the whole job a little bit more simple. I wasn't overthinking the situation. I just knew if I got a ball that I could hit I'd try and hit it."

Maxwell struck 78 from his last 33 balls, barely moving his body as he swung at the ball, yet still managing to consistently find the boundary.

Having first received physio treatment when he was on 109, the right-hander went on to hit a further seven sixes (out of 10 in total) and nine fours (out of 21) in a scarcely believable display that finished off the chase.

Even Pat Cummins, who only contributed 12 to their record 202-run partnership, had thought his partner was done when he went down in the 41st over.

Australia's captain signalled to No.10 Adam Zampa, who walked down the steps from the change-rooms and was on the edge of the outfield waiting to replace Maxwell.

"I thought he was going off," said Cummins. "He literally couldn't move and then I think the physio kind of convinced Maxi that if he came off, he might be worse off.

"So try and hang out there, stand up, and that's probably your best bet. Because once you go off it's that much cramp, there's no guarantee you're going to get back out there."

Maxwell had received three huge slices of good fortune in the space of 12 balls early in his innings, with two catches going down (one a sitter from Mujeeb ur-Rahman) and being given out lbw off wrist-spinner Noor Ahmed.

He was certain he was out but reviewed at Cummins' insistence and was as surprised as anyone when ball-tracking technology predicted it would go over the top of the stumps.

Glenn Maxwell survives a DRS review // Fox Cricket

"It felt plumb," said Maxwell. "I was trying to cover my stumps and I didn't really care if I inside edged or outside edged, as long as I was covering them.

"I was so angry with myself. Patty straight away said 'I think that's going over the top, it actually bounced quite a bit, and you were a long way forward.' And I was like 'I'm not sure about that, it didn't feel very good.'

"It was perfect timing, because it sort of kicked me into 'all right, I've just got to be a bit more aggressive, I've just got to be a bit more proactive to make them bowl wider, make them keep it away from the stumps'."

Aussies back from the dead after Maxwell double ton

Coming together at 7-91, neither Cummins nor Maxwell figured they were any chance of reeling in the 292 they were set. Australia had never chased that big a total at a World Cup, let alone after giving themselves such a handicap.

Cummins conceded a decent net run-rate boost to increase his side's semi-final hopes was the best he initially hoped for.

Maxwell said he started gaining in confidence as Rashid Khan's remaining overs dwindled after the star spinner had proved unplayable at times during the early stages of the innings.

"When Maxi got his hundred, I kind of thought, wow, we're within 120 (runs) or something and then I still thought, no way," said Cummins.

"I reckon it wasn't until the spinners were just about done and there was maybe 40 (runs needed) where I thought okay even if Maxi gets out here, I reckon the other guys can get it done.

"But literally within the last 20 minutes was about the only time (he thought they would win)."

Australia's 2023 ODI World Cup fixtures

October 8: Lost to India by six wickets

October 12: Lost to South Africa by 134 runs

October 16: Beat Sri Lanka by five wickets

October 20: Beat Pakistan by 62 runs

October 25: Beat Netherlands by 309 runs

October 28: Beat New Zealand by five runs

November 4: Beat England by 33 runs

November 7: Beat Afghanistan by three wickets

November 11: v Bangladesh, Pune, 4pm AEDT

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

2023 World Cup standings

Matches played
No results
Net Run Rate
Total points
1 India Men India Men IND 9 9 0 0 0 2.57 0 18
2 South Africa Men South Africa Men SA 9 7 2 0 0 1.261 0 14
3 Australia Men Australia Men AUS 9 7 2 0 0 0.841 0 14
4 New Zealand Men New Zealand Men NZ 9 5 4 0 0 0.743 0 10
5 Pakistan Men Pakistan Men PAK 9 4 5 0 0 -0.199 0 8
6 Afghanistan Men Afghanistan Men AFG 9 4 5 0 0 -0.336 0 8
7 England Men England Men ENG 9 3 6 0 0 -0.572 0 6
8 Bangladesh Men Bangladesh Men BAN 9 2 7 0 0 -1.087 0 4
9 Sri Lanka Men Sri Lanka Men SL 9 2 7 0 0 -1.419 0 4
10 Netherlands Men Netherlands Men NED 9 2 7 0 0 -1.825 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

PTS: Total points